Jennifer Cadoff:  Lines and Grids

Jennifer Cadoff, INTERSTITIAL

Jennifer Cadoff will exhibit 4 works in the exhibition DRAWING THE LINE at the Pelham Art Center, Pelham, NY (February16-April 2, 2023).  When you visit the exhibition you will see her large 45×45 inch unframed signature grid drawing titled INTERSTITIAL with ink on 140 lb HP watercolor paper (above), two drawings on paper with collage, and an installation created with drawing on paper strips. See more images below. 

Jennifer Cadoff’s ink drawings include straight and curled lines she calls scribbles. DRAWING THE LINE is a group exhibition with 8 artists. I invited Jennifer Cadoff and 7 others, including June Ahrens, Louise Cadoux, Mia deBethune, Eileen Hoffman, Mary McFerran, Roger Mudre, and TB Ward. They create drawings with lines, dots, circles, curls and spirals and work with graphite, wire, wire mesh, wood, fabric, embroidery thread, acrylic paint, knotted chenille stems and safety pins. See interviews of all the artists at Art of Collage and read about all the drawings in the exhibition. 

The reception for DRAWING THE LINE is Thursday, February 16th, 6:00-8:00 pm.

I asked Jennifer how she created the lines in this grid drawing. She said: “When I started INTERSTITIAL I planned to draw a freehand grid with rectangular shapes in pencil on my 45×45 inch piece of paper.  I wasn’t using guidelines and some of the rows listed one way or the other by the time the lines got to the other side of the paper. I had to accommodate those rows as I continued to fill up the page and some rows got narrower, or wider, or petered out altogether.  My next step in the drawing was to do the same thing, but with permanent black markers, and this time the rows ended up slightly different — so you can see many of the first layer pencil lines in the open white spaces.” She said her next step was filling in the spaces around the shapes with what she calls scribble.  

The title INTERSTITIAL means the spaces between. Jennifer Cadoff says: “Grids, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, are a recurring theme in my work.  I love the rhythm and stability of the form, and I love playing with disrupting that stability.” She says she ended up thinking of the scribbled areas as a kind of support system for the white shapes, while also being something that keeps them separate, apart from each other.

Visit the artist’s website gallery titled “On the Wall” and see B&W grid drawings with people standing nearby (so you see the scale of the works). Other images include a grid the artist created with 25 one-foot-square ink-on-watercolor drawings on paper she pinned to the wall in a grid titled Telescope. You’ll see a work titled Mind Games #2 that’s ink on watercolor paper, 60 x 44 inches, that’s tiled from 4 full sheets of 140 lb Arched HP watercolor paper. 

Jennifer Cadoff, BRIDGES 5

The image above is titled BRIDGES 5, ink and collage on 140lb HP watercolor paper, framed, 17×21 inches and will be installed in DRAWING THE LINE. Notice the background drawing includes an amazing array of circles that push against each other in a crowded field. Notice the vertical collage strip with 9 tiny squares with dense cross-hatch lines drawn in ink.

Jennifer Cadoff, BRIDGES 10

The image above is titled BRIDGES 10, ink and collage on 140lb HP watercolor paper, framed, 17×22 inches. BRIDGES 10 will be installed in the exhibition with BRIDGES 5. Both have collage elements that are scraps from the artist’s inventory of drawings on paper: one has a vertical strip with drawings that mimic the background drawing, and one has horizontal strips that bridge a center strip. Jennifer Cadoff says “I did probably 12 or 15 of these small bridge pieces, some pieced from cut-up pen and ink drawings, others from cut-up watercolor washes.  I was thinking about separation and connection when I was working on them – with maybe a smidge of danger vs. safety?  As with most of my work, I start making them before I actually figure out the theme that’s arisen in the work. My hands and heart often seem to lead the way, with the 

Jennifer Cadoff, paper strips installation

The image above shows pen and ink drawings on paper strips installed on the wall in the artist’s studio. This image is a teaser. When you visit DRAWING THE LINE, you’ll see a new installation with paper strips. In the image above, the strips have lines, dots and circles and are almost identical to the pen and ink line drawings in BRIDGES 10. The new installation will include strips with similar pen and ink drawings.

Jennifer Cadoff has a new goal for drawing as installation “to make the work more accessible, more approachable, somehow less precious so it becomes possibly no more art-like than popcorn and cranberry strings for your Christmas tree.” When you see the artist’s installation at the Pelham Art Center, you will see its final size and shape. 


Read About the Artist. Jennifer Cadoff graduated from Dartmouth College as an English major, followed by an AFA degree in fine arts from Mercer County College, Trenton, NJ. She worked as a magazine editor and writer for Mademoselle and Self magazine for more than 25 years. In 2005 she returned to the College of New Jersey and earned a BFA in fine arts. Her CV includes museum exhibitions and being accepted 4 times in the very prestigious Art of the Northeast (AoNE) juried show at the Silvermine Artists Guild in New Canaan, CT.

Currently she divides her time between Connecticut and Westchester County, NY. She creates thematically related drawings.  Each work is one of a kind and hand-drawn; some as small as 3×3 inches; some as large as 7×7 feet.  At her “Arms Length” gallery she says her drawings are created with a common constraint – the maximum her arm can reach across her 44” drawing board. 

Jennifer Cadoff, a work in progress

The image above is currently on Jennifer Cadoff’s homepage and shows a drawing in progress with a grouping of tiny circles that will grow, connect, and eventually fill the whole page. The artist turns the paper as she works and builds the image incrementally, and says: “The press of my hand must vary over time, maybe a new pen has a slightly heavier flow, and one area ends up looking a bit darker than its neighbors.” Her paper of choice is 140lb HP watercolor paper because it’s heavy, smooth, and strong. She prefers to work with Staedtler Lumocolor pens because they create a consistent line with a reliable steady ink flow that dries instantly, is permanent and lightfast. She wants the ink to dry fast because she’s a lefty and doesn’t want her hand to drag across wet ink as she works.  She says so many pens she’s worked with over the years are scratchier, run out of ink at inopportune times, or are just somehow less of a pleasure to work with than the Staedtler pens.

Jennifer Cadoff, INROADS

The image above is titled INROADS, and, according to the artist, is one of her favorite pieces. She created the background with tiny penand ink circles. This work is unframed, 45×45 inches, drawn on 140-pound hot-press watercolor paper. The narrow white strip is glued on top. I asked about the length of the white strip.  Jennifer Cadoff answered my question with questions: “Is the little strip confidently heading across the abyss (a roiling sea? deep space? dreamland?), or has it gotten itself into a fix and come to a dead halt part way through its journey?” She says it took her a long time to pick that narrow strip of paper, with its tiny markings, and figure out how long it should be and its proper placement, adding: “After quite a while of trying this and that over maybe a week or so, the piece said yes to this little guy.”

Jennifer Cadoff, SKY TAPESTRY

The image above is titled SKY TAPESTRY. It’s ink on watercolor paper, 45×45 inches (unframed). Jennifer Cadoff says she’s done several “sky tapestry” drawings in different sizes (SKY TAPESTRY is the largest … so far) and some are created in blue ink instead of black. The artist says the first one in the series was inspired by looking at the night sky through a screened in porch door. Each work starts with drawing a freehand square (which means it’s never quite actually square), then drawing a grid pattern over the freehand square with lines extending past the square (creating the fringes), then filling in the center with scribble, leaving some of the tiny squares in the underlying grid open to create the sparkling stars.  Jennifer Cadoff says the number of stars and where they appear evolve as she works on the drawing. She says many people think these pieces are woven or fabric, even when they’re standing right in front of the drawing. Plan to look closely at the drawing when you visit the exhibition. See if you agree.

Jennifer Cadoff, TUMBLING BLOCKS

The Image above is titled TUMBLING BLOCKS. It’s ink on 140lb HP watercolor paper, 22×22 inches (unframed), and is one of several works the artist created with “tumbling block” pieces, a classic Amish quilt pattern. She lived in Philadelphia as a child, close to Amish Lancaster County, and has always loved quilts. She says: “I took a quilting class and made one for my daughter’s crib when I was pregnant (she’s now 35) and loved the hand piecing of the small bits into squares, but then didn’t like using a sewing machine to put the pieces together and finish the quilt.” 

Jennifer Cadoff created TUMBLING BLOCKS as a quilt pattern with a 3D effect by cutting and piecing small identical shapes from three contrasting drawings (or watercolor washes) on paper. She says there is a small space between each piece of paper, and, when you look closely, you notice the pieces are not quite all the same, aren’t quite lined up or spaced perfectly. She adds: “Like the Amish, imperfection is an integral part of the harmonious whole.”

Jennifer Cadoff, RETROSPECTIVE

The image above is a 28×29 inch collage titled RETROSPECTIVE, created with individual 4×4 inch square drawings on paper. Jennifer Cadoff put this piece together just for fun “to showcase just a few of the many ways simple lines can add up  – to first create a small coherent drawing, then, can be combined into an artwork that, hopefully intrigues the eye and suggests various conversations between the different sub-sections.” She says she wants to do a very large wall piece with hundreds of similar pieced drawings she’s cut up along the way, and adds: “Yet again, it’s a grid, putting smaller pieces together to make the whole.”

Jennifer Cadoff, LIFE/SCARS

The image above is ink on watercolor paper with layered elements, 22×22 inches, and titled LIFE/SCARS. Jennifer Cadoff says she started this piece with a pencil outline to support the grid, trying to make it as even as possible – “a challenge to the steadiness of my hand and my ability to concentrate and focus.” She says she made “mistakes” — colored in the wrong square, let the pen slip. Instead of immediately cutting up the piece to add to her growing stack of 4×4 inch “recycled” drawing pieces, she sat with it for a while, then made little “bandages” to cover, and protect, the “mistakes.”  She says it’s the same grid pattern, just tiny, and adds: It started to make me think of life.  The dark and light alternating squares might be a sort of counting of the days and nights.  The overlying patches might be our inevitable scars, beautiful in themselves, honoring how we heal and move forward despite our injuries and mistakes.”

Jennifer Cadoff, CITY LIFE

The image above is titled CITY LIFE. It’s collage on paper, 55×55 inches, and was recently installed at Art of the Northeast (AoNE) at Silvermine Art Galleries in New Canaan, CT. The following statement was included on the wall with her work: “The core of my practice is making abstract drawings using archival ink on heavy watercolor paper, using a limited range of simple marks (dots, tiny circles, short lines, scribble). I often piece drawings together into grids that can measure 6×6 feet or more. I also cut, rip, fold, glue and sew together pieces of drawings into collages and “paperworks” that incorporate other materials and employ the techniques of hand-made books. For CITY LIFE, I started with one big piece of watercolor paper and more than a thousand bits of cut-up drawings and paintings (acrylics, watercolors), playing with the pieces until various groupings started to interact in engaging ways.  As the piece slowly grew, it began to remind me of my years in NYC — both in terms of so many unique individuals living and working in proximity, and as a kind of bird’s eye view of the city’s physical diversity – broad avenues, crowded neighborhoods, pockets of open space. Just like actual cities, this one evolved over time.  Approximately 3 years and 800 bits of paper later, CITY LIFE is here for you to spend some time with. Thanks for visiting.”

WHAT’S NEW? Jennifer Cadoff says she joined the Crit Lab, an alternative ecosystem for working artists led by Patricia Miranda. Members divide up into groups of 6 or 7 with some sort of link between art or artistic intentions. Jennifer Cadoff says it’s fabulous. Link here to the Crit Lab Instagram site to see Jennifer Cadoff’s OpArt grid with green boxes that move diagonally. 

Link here to see all the galleries and works at the artist’s website. Link here to see more works by the artists at her Instagram site.

Thank you for reading this post about Jennifer Cadoff and her drawings that will be included in DRAWING THE LINE. Please save the date – Thursday, February 16, 2023, 6:00-8:00 pm for the opening reception at the Pelham Art Center.  

Your comments are welcome. 


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